Tag: knowledge

Our Obsession With Smartphones Reduces Our Brain Power, Says Study

Younger generations are often accused of going around glued to their phones (although the rise of the silver surfer means this isnt strictly fair). Even though you can argue that means infinite knowledge and information at your fingertips, a new study has shownsmartphones can also reduce our brain power and a specifictype of intelligence.

Its all down to our attention continuously wandering towards our phones, which the researchers argue in their study published in the online Journal of the Association of Consumer Researchis reducing our available cognitive capacity.

They decided to test the brain drain hypothesis, which posits that knowing our smartphone is in the vicinity uses up limited-capacity cognitive resources, thereby leaving fewer resources available for other tasks and undercutting cognitive performance.

The brain has a finite pool of attention resources the limited-capacity cognitive resources that control both attention and other cognitive processes. When these resources are used to try and prevent automatic attention going towards our phone, we are tying up these resources, making them unavailable to carry out other tasks, meaning the performance of these tasks suffer.

The researchers discovered that just by having a smartphone in your eye line, you are more likely to fail at simple tasks and remembering things, and this holds true when your phone is in your pocket, your bag, or even in the next room.

To studythis, they conducted experiments testing 520 university students on their memory and intelligence while in the presence of their phones. The participants answered exam questions that tested mathematics, memory, and reasoning, while their phones were randomly assigned to be on their desk, in their pocket, in their bag, or in the next room.

The results showed that those who kept their phone on their desk (in eyesight) scored 10 percent lower on questions that testedfocus and memory. They also reacted slower to speed tests. In fact, even when their phones were turned off or on do not disturb mode, if they were on the desk, the participant scored lower than those whose phones were in the next room.

This means smartphones diminish a person’s working memory capacity and “fluid intelligence” the ability to solve novel problems independent of already stored information, which is calledcrystallized intelligence.

Unsurprisingly, they found that the negative effects of having your phone nearby was greater for those who self-identified as being dependent on their phones. They think this effect is not because the smartphone users mind is being distracted by thoughts of checking for messages, but rather their mind is concentrating on trying not to be distracted, at the expense of the performance of the task at hand.

“Your conscious mind isn’t thinking about your smartphone, but that process the process of requiring yourself not to think about something uses up some of your limited cognitive resources, concluded lead author Dr Adrian Ward in a statement. It’s a brain drain.”

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/brain/our-obsession-with-smartphones-reduces-our-brain-power-says-study/

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Even An AI Supercomputer Found This College Entrance Exam Tough

If you are getting stressed about upcoming exams then youre not alone, so is this artificially intelligent (AI) machine.

Last week, a top AI system was pitted against nearly 10 million students to face the maths paper for a much-feared Chinese university entrance exam, known as gaokao. Unfortunately for robotkind, its results were pretty mediocre.

The computer a humming tower of eleven servers with no Internet connection called AI-MATHS scored 105 points out of 150 points. On another version of the test, it scored 100. Although that beats the passing score of 90, humanities students had previously scored an average of 109 last year.

That said, the machine finished the exam in 10 minutes when humans are given two hours to complete the exam.

Scientists recently saidartificial intelligence will be able to beat humans at everything by 2060, whether that’squizzes, exams, chess, or the game Go. In response to the study, Elon Musk then tweeted that he believes AI-superiority will actually be earlier, around 2030 or 2040.

That doesnt mean this AI is slow off the mark, however. The computer itself would be able to deal with raw numbers with no problem. Instead, the purpose of this task was to understand the examination in terms of language, something that computers are not so sharp with at the moment.

“This is not a make-or-break test for a robot. The aim is to train artificial intelligence to learn the way humans reason and deal with numbers,” said Lin Hui, CEO of Chengdu Zhunxingyunxue Technology, who developed the AI, according to Chinese news agencyXinhua.

For example, the robot had a hard time understanding the words ‘students’ and ‘teachers’ on the test and failed to understand the question, so it scored zero for that question.

Gaokao isinfamously rigorous and renowned for being overwhelming stressful for the young people that take it. Made up of four three-hour papers in Chinese, English, mathematics, and a choice of either sciences or humanities, the series of tests rely on an extensive range of knowledge, problem-solving skills, and obscure creative thinking. The mathematics exam itself is said to be about as tough as the same level college exam in the West.

Nevertheless, the researchers continue to work with China’s Ministry of Science and Technology and remain optimistic their AI will improve in the exams in no time at all.

I hope next year the machine can improve its performance on logical reasoning and computer algorithms and score over 130,” Lin added.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/technology/even-an-ai-supercomputer-found-this-college-entrance-exam-tough/

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Knowing Names Makes Cooperation More Likely

Names are powerful things. Just knowing what someone calls themself makes us more likely to cooperate rather than compete with them, a new study has found. The discovery could prove useful in reducing conflict, but some writers of fiction might be asking scientists what took you so long?

Social scientists have spent much effort testing variations of the Prisoner’s Dilemma to find out under what circumstances people prefer to cooperate for the common good, rather than seek their own advantage. It’s hardly surprising that people are more likely to cooperate with those they already trust or are likely to interact with in the future. However, according to Zhen Wang and co-authors, even the tiny connection provided by knowing another participant’s name increases the chanceof cooperation.

Wang of the Northwestern Polytechnical University in China collaborated with researchers from five other countries on the project. They studied the behavior of 154 randomly paired Yunnan University undergraduates who interacted in repeated Prisoner’s Dilemma scenarios, where they had the choice to cooperate, defect, or punish the other player, with the knowledge they would probably have future rounds with the same partner.

Cooperators sacrificed one unit so the other player got two. Defectors got a unit for themselves at the expense of the other player, while those who optedfor punishment lost one unit while penalizing the other player four units, discouraging past defectors from repeating their actions.

In Science Advances, Wang reports that knowing each others’ names was enough to induce most participants to cooperate initially, in contrast to anonymous rounds where defection dominated.

The authors acknowledge the possibility the result was enhanced by the participants being classmates of similar background. Nevertheless, the effect was large compared to those seen from other attempts to tweak Prisoner’s Dilemma outcomes.

The Prisoner’s Dilemma has been intensively studied partly because human survival depends on cooperation, so finding ways to increase it has value. This work has been further spurred by the observation that cooperation is common in nature, in defiance of crude evolutionary models, which predicted it should seldom exist. The drive to understand the discrepancy has greatly expanded what we know about the workings of evolution, including studies of the way that cooperators, by grouping together, can offset the advantagegained by free riders who profit from others’ generosity while offering none of their own.

Although this may be the first scientific proof, the idea we care more for those whose names we know is widespread. Our names shape how people treat us, possibly enough to change how we look. In The West Wingseries, Leo McGarry complained he couldn’t eat the lobsters his daughter had named, a phenomenon common enough for the audience to recognize.

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/brain/knowing-names-makes-cooperation-more-likely/

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Scientists Discover 40 New Genes Linked To Intelligence

As the great debate over nurture versus nature continues, a team of geneticists have identified 40 new genes that have a direct influence over human intelligence. Writing in the journal Nature Genetics, the team conclude that there are now at least 52 genes that have a direct influence on a persons IQ.

Analyzing the genomes of 60,000 adults and 20,000 children, the team led by the Free University of Amsterdam found that these 40 new genes guide the construction of healthy neurons, as well as the synapse connections that branch between them.

Its likely that there are hundreds of additional genes that have an influence over IQ, so although this study represents the biggest haul yet in this regard, theres still a long way to go before the cartography of our cognitive abilities is complete.

The team note that these 40 new genes, when all other factors are ruled out, explain just 4.8 percent of the variation in human intelligence seen over their subjects. If 50 percent of a persons IQ can be explained genetically, then this means that there is a huge chasm of knowledge that geneticists have yet to fill.

These findings provide starting points for understanding the molecular neurobiological mechanisms underlying intelligence, one of the most investigated traits in humans, the authors write in their study.

Just to clarify straight off the bat these genes have an influence on intelligence, but environmental factors, including lifestyle, healthcare, socio-economic background, education, and so on also have a huge effect.

Furthermore, IQ tests two types of cognitive facets known as crystallized intelligence and fluid intelligence.

The former is the ability of a person to solve puzzles or answer questions when the parameters of the problem have already been understood or conveyed clearly mathematics is a good example of this. Fluid intelligence is the ability to solve brand new and more abstract problems, like navigating a maze, spotting hidden patterns, or even weaving through a conversation with a complete stranger.

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Ooh! There’s one. (Note: This is not how science is actually done.) vchal/Shutterstock

There are plenty of other types of intelligence, including emotional intelligence the ability to empathize, to regulate ones own emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships well. IQ does not take this into account, and neither do these 52 genes.

This study also only looked at the genomes of those with European descent. Other research groups will have to peer into the genetic makeup of those from other geographical settings to see if the same genes are present all over the world.

In any case, this is a remarkable study that represents a giant leap forward in our understanding of what has been referred to as the architecture of intelligence. Its a tall mountain to climb, but another ledge has just been scaled by this research team.

[H/T: Guardian]

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/brain/scientists-discover-40-new-genes-linked-intelligence/

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The Map Of Mathematics

If you want to up your nerd-level, just watch this video by Dominic Walliman about the different fields of math. But beware: Over 350,000 people already have seen this and might be a lot smarter by now. Try to keep up!

“The entire field of mathematics summarised in a single map! This shows how pure mathematics and applied mathematics relate to each other and all of the sub-topics they are made from.”

via: sploid

Read more: https://www.viralviralvideos.com/2017/02/10/the-map-of-mathematics/

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